Three employees of Tesla Motors, the high-end Silicon Valley electric car maker, died when their twin-engine Cessna 310 airplane collided with power lines and then crashed into an East Palo Alto, Calif., neighborhood Wednesday morning.
The accident destroyed a children’s home daycare center, damaged three homes, and caused massive power outages throughout neighboring Palo Alto, where the company is based. No one was killed or injured on the ground.
The cause of the crash has yet to be determined – and the names of those killed had not been released as of Wednesday afternoon – but many have blamed the dense fog that blanked much of the San Francisco Bay Area Wednesday morning.
Some reports following the crash suggest the victims included a Tesla executive and two of the company’s engineers.
In a brief statement, Tesla CEO Elon Musk said the accident was a “tragic day” for the “small, tightly-knit company.”
In East Palo Alto, the accident is raising fresh concerns about the safety of living near a general aviation airport, such as the one where the Tesla employees departed en route to the Los Angeles area.
“The crash shows that this is dangerous," Marie McKenzie, an East Palo Alto resident who lives near the scene of the crash, told NBC News. "Individual pilots are different than commercial pilots. The foggy conditions are inappropriate to fly in."
Ms. McKenzie said he has been working for years to no avail to keep planes from flying directly above the neighborhood.
Last April, a twin-engine propeller plane, taking off from an airport near Fort Lauderdale, Fla., crashed into a home near the runway. According to the Associated Press, two other planes taking off from the same airport crashed in nearby residential areas shortly after takeoff.
In October, a small plane crashed into a house near Atlanta after it took off from a nearby airfield. The accident killed both the pilot and a woman inside.
According to the National Transportation Safety Board, 1,466 general aviation accidents occurred in 2009 resulting in 473 fatalities. In 2008, there were 1,566 small plane accidents and 494 deaths.
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